TorahScope: Terumah

Terumah

Contribution

Exodus 25:1-27:19
1 Kings 5:26-6:13

“Willing Hearts”


by Mark Huey

Our Torah portion for this week, Terumah, begins with the command for the Ancient Israelites to contribute to the Tabernacle construction project:

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution. This is the contribution which you are to raise from them: gold, silver and bronze’” (Exodus 25:1-3).

In Terumah, the people of Israel are finally given an opportunity to give back to God for all that He has done for them—and the outpouring of material is great (cf. Exodus 36:5). With meticulous detail, Moses is given and then records the instructions for construction of a temporary Tabernacle and its components,[1] which will be used to worship the Lord during the sojourn through the desert:

“Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).

Among the lengthy list of items to be contributed are not just the materials necessary for the different pieces of Tabernacle furniture, but also the materials necessary for the garments for the high priest:

“This is the contribution which you are to raise from them: gold, silver and bronze, blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goat hair, rams’ skins dyed red, porpoise skins, acacia wood, oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastpiece” (Exodus 25:3-7).

As you can deduce from this short summary list of materials, the Lord is particular about what He requires to fellowship with His chosen people in the Tabernacle that they will build for Him. He tells Moses about what this all means, stating, “See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain” (Exodus 25:40). God gave Moses various Heavenly patterns, off of which the Israelites would be able to model the Tabernacle and its accoutrements.[2]

For the balance of the Book of Exodus, the specifics of the Tabernacle, its construction, and the implements to be used in it are described, and God’s instructions are followed (Exodus chs. 25-40). It all culminates with the glory of God filling the Tabernacle, as the Book of Exodus concludes:

“He erected the court all around the tabernacle and the altar, and hung up the veil for the gateway of the court. Thus Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:33-34).

As one reads this particular Torah portion, and contemplates the volume of the Book of Exodus that is devoted to describing the Tabernacle essentials, you should be reminded that the Lord is definitely interested in dwelling with His people. In fact, as Paul will later indicate, the concept of God dwelling with His people gets elevated to living inside human vessels, who commit themselves to Yeshua the Messiah:

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Reflection on Terumah can focus on a number of different aspects detailed in the quality of materials chosen for the Tabernacle construction. Each has considerable meaning and symbolism that have ministered to me. Just as gold or silver has beauty or value—even more so, our redeemed hearts must be of a higher value and beauty—as we commit ourselves to a live of service to our Heavenly Father.

Freewill Offering

Rather than dig into some minutiae from Terumah, when I read and meditated on our Torah portion this week, the Holy Spirit began to focus my attention on the importance of the freewill offering that the Israelites were commanded to give:

“Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution” (Exodus 25:2).

As Terumah begins, the Hebrew verb used to describe the movement of the Israelites’ hearts is nadav. In the Qal stem (simple action, active voice), it means to “urge on, prompt” (CHALOT),[3] in reference to freewill offerings and acts of heartfelt volunteering. From some other places where nadav is used, you can get the impression that when someone is compelled to perform an action, the personal and physical costs are not humanly considered. There is also an apparent link to gathering materials for the Tabernacle, and later the Temple, that houses the glory of God.

Nadav is used later in the Tanakh, in describing the freewill offerings which are given to King David for the construction of the first Temple, built during King Solomon’s reign. In this passage, nadav appears in the Hitpael stem (intensive action, reflective voice) and means to “decide voluntarily, volunteer,” or “offer voluntarily, give a free will offering” (CHALOT)[4]:

“[O]f gold for the things of gold and of silver for the things of silver, that is, for all the work done by the craftsmen. Who then is willing to consecrate himself this day to the LORD?’ Then the rulers of the fathers’ households, and the princes of the tribes of Israel, and the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with the overseers over the king’s work, offered willingly [nadav]” (1 Chronicles 29:5-6).

We also see the verb nadav used when the materials for the Second Temple are being gathered by those of Ezra’s generation:

“Then the heads of fathers’ households of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and the Levites arose, even everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up and rebuild the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. All those about them encouraged them with articles of silver, with gold, with goods, with cattle and with valuables, aside from all that was given as a freewill offering [nadav, Hitpael]” (Ezra 1:5-6).

In each of these recorded offerings, people whose hearts were stirred—were those who freely offered up the valuable items for the construction projects.

Living Sacrifice

As I examined these passages and the actions of those who were moved by the Lord, I was reminded of some important things. First, I was reminded that our spiritual forbearers had an opportunity to offer gold, silver, and other precious and costly items for the construction of God’s Earthly dwelling places. Whether it was the Tabernacle in the desert or the First and Second Temples, these were each unique occasions when certain persons responded in an overwhelming fashion. I was impressed with the thought that these people had their heart stirred to such a point that they did not consider the cost and high value of the items they gave.

Secondly, I was reminded of the reality that Believers today, who compose a kind of Temple for the Holy One, have much more to offer of themselves to Him. Instead of just offering gold or silver, we have the privilege of presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice before the Lord. Such a living sacrifice does not just pertain to how we individually live, but also how we are to function in unity accomplishing the Lord’s tasks for the Earth. As the Apostle Paul puts it,

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).

As children of the Most High, who should be confident that we are indwelt with the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), we can offer ourselves up as a living sacrifice, for use by God as He so pleases. This, in and of itself, is something that each Believer must willfully choose to do. We have to contribute something so that we all function as a corporate, living sacrifice.

In order for this to be achieved, our hearts must be truly moved—without counting the value or cost of what we must contribute to God’s service. If you do take the time to count the cost, and realize that your offering requires a total surrender to the will of God, then you just might not be willing to commit the time or energy that He requires.

A Better Sacrifice

What we all must be thankful for is that God Himself, in the Person of Yeshua, had a willing heart to offer Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of fallen humanity. As glorious as the wilderness Tabernacle, and First and Second Temples were—their service of sacrifices was not sufficient to provide us with permanent atonement, as detailed by the author of Hebrews:

“And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Messiah did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Messiah also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him” (Hebrews 9:22-28).

Thankfully, Yeshua’s heart was stirred to the point that He was willing to be our sacrifice.

How about you? Is your heart being stirred to the point where you are willing to offer yourself up so that you can be useful in the Kingdom’s work? If you have offered yourself up, are you encouraging others to do the same? If you are not doing these things, pray that our Heavenly Father will stir your heart to the point that the cost does not matter. Take the opportunity to offer yourself before Him.

The chance to be a willing sacrifice comes only during your lifetime. Be like those who did not miss the chance to make the offering when their time came! Pray for the stirring of your heart!


NOTES

[1] Exodus 25:10-27:21.

[2] According to Hebrews 9:23, the different components of the Earthly Tabernacle were copies of various Heavenly originals.

[3] CHALOT, 228.

[4] Ibid.